Hello New Zealand!
I arrived to New Zealand (NZ) with no expectations.. few things I was aware of were that NZ will take my breath away with its nature, has colder climate than in New South Wales, Australia and salaries are much lower .. prices for the goods on the other hand and fuel.. not.
I was quite lucky to arrive to Auckland jumping straight into our van named “Uunikum Chilly”. My partner found this cute new home on wheels and took a good care of it before I finally landed in NZ.
April is not the best month for roadtrips as autumn slowly breaks in and even if you sleep in a van, taking a freezing shower outside gets a bit challenging.
And that’s why we decided to begin our NZ trip traveling up north from Auckland as it’s relatively warm in there. The northern area is called Northland and this post is all about it.
New Zealand has two islands. North Island and South Island. New Zealander’s are affectionately known as “Kiwis“. The name comes from the kiwi, a flightless bird native to New Zealand. It is also the national symbol.
Northland – trip to the tropical and cultural paradise of New Zealand
We did a round trip starting Auckland and going up north via east coast and then back via west coast.
Shakespear Regional Park
We were camping in a paid camping ground that had a short walk uphill with remarkable sunset, quiet beach, many sheeps and some tables for cooking. You will clearly notice different birds around the regional park.
I noticed some unknown fruit named Feijoas, tasted soo good. I quickly became addicted to them.
Tawharanui Regional Park
Sculpture trail and winery – winery surrounded by sculptures along a 1 hour trail that are made by local artists and are all for sale. Sale revenue goes to the charity. I have to note that many sculptures had a spiritual ecological meaning and I, as an artist myself, was impressed.
This was clearly fishermen favourite spot as the wharf was crowded with heaps of guys from different nationalities. We did some trekking around the area, coast looked amazing. The next day we got a little gift from one fishermen as my partner was fishing at the wharf. He gave us a huge snapperfish that was later cooked and tasted delicious. No wonder why, this fish is pretty expensive in the stores.
Later on we had some exploration time around Goat Island. Sting Ray, Goat fish and many other ocean creatures made our day while snorkeling. The water was quite freezing though.
These caves are not yet turned into touristic attraction, so you can have an unguided free tour inside the largest cave passage in Northland. Stalactites hang from the ceiling and there’s also an enourmous stalagmite. We spent some time watching the glow wormes that covered the ceiling of the cave.
These falls are located in the city centre and look gorgeous. We had a small detour along the track, so we ended up walking around 7 km till the sunset to get back to the car park.
We met a local artist named Steve Moase. who had his own gallery in the city centre. Truly beautiful artwork, take a look at his website www.moaseart.com
Beautiful beach with some cliffs. We enjoyed the sunset, I did some artwork and my partner played a guitar.
My partner took me on a mountain bike trip, adrenaline seeker as he is.. I have done really long and challenging bike trips for more than 190 km but this was way too much. I wasn’t really happy at first as the tracks were all going uphill. Luckily my mood changed when we reached the fun part – tracks with jumps and crazy turns going downhill. Adrenaline truly got into my veins and I felt over the top.
Shortly after the mountain bike trip we took a ferry to town called Russel that used to be called the Hell Hole back in the times when NZ was discovered by Brittains and ships started to arrive. We made it to Russell just by the sunset time so everything was closed already, however the NZ’s oldest church had still some lights on, so we were keen to discover. We sat down at the church and took our own contemplation time. And then all of a sudden all lights went on and a lady stepped in. She said that usually church is closed at this time but today is a special night, they are having a leg washing Easter ritual with some other church members and she invited us to be part of this event. First we had to sing some songs that were all on the booklet given to us and then each one of us had to wash the legs of another person in a bath filled with some leaves and herbs.
Waitangi Treaty Grounds
Today the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, part of the 1000 acre gifted site, are referred to as the birthplace of New Zealand.
The grounds include one of New Zealand’s oldest and most visited historic homes.
It felt like Mauri culture really is respected in this country and their traditions shared with the world in an honest way. We spent around 4 hours in the museum, watched Mauri’s traditional dance and explored the history of this misterious country.
Unforgettable forest walk with giant Kauri trees.
Massive sanddunes filled with tourists and their boards. Our board was unfortunately broken but we made the most out of it as paying 10 dollars for a sandboard hire seemed to be a bit pointless.
Cape Reinga Lighthouse
Really windy, ohh.. those sunsets and sunrises. Remote quiet place, no residential houses. There’s no phosfor and calcium in the soil, and hence this place has a really unique flora.
Rented quad bike and had some fun at 90 mile beach, such a blast. Had never tried it before.
We arrived late and were hoping to find a pivate camping spot somewhere by the river. Scenery was hypnotising as well as cows by the road. In fact one of them had a perfect squared spot on the head. The road ended with a really quiet spot by the river. All of a sudden I didn’t feel quite well in there. And it got even worse as we noticed 2 abandoned cars by the river and third across the lake. It all felt so unsecure and we decided to find another place for camping. There was some kind of gathering going on just when we reached the main road again and my partner was really curious (as always) to ask locals about this place. Local said that they are having a Maori funeral ceremony atm. and shortly added that this town has many lost souls who are unemployed.
I found out later on from another local nearby that this town has the most suicides in New Zealand and it didn’t surprise me. Surely the energy has to be cleaned in Opononi by someone who knows what to do, healers, lightworkers.
Waipoua State Forest – Tane Mahuta, the giant tree
Forest road stretches for 18 km and passes huge Kauri trees, the Maori forest god is named Tane Mahuta and it’s around 1200-2000 years old. Te Matua Ngahere is anoher giant tree at the end of relaxing rainforest track not far from the the first giant tree. And you can’t forget those beautiful lady Kauris named Four Sisters standing next to each other. As for the forest itself, ohh.. it’s unique. The energy while it’s raining and everything is super green, I love rainforests. In fact I recently listened to one highly respected estonian healer radioshow (Tarmo Urb, Hallo Kosmos) where he mentioned that you can find a cure for all diseases on the planet from rainforest plants and herbs. I really do believe that as the ecological system of rainforests has attracted many indigenous tribes all over the world for many thousands of years obviously for a reason and one of them is healing.
And not forgetting to mention that Tane Mahuta has inspired one estonian singer and spiritual soul named Tom Valsberg, who has named his band after this beautiful giant tree.
Matakohe – Kauri Museum
This museum explains the whole history of Kauri trees. Entire timber industry brought to life, moving machines, artefacts, the usage and sculptures made of Kauri gum, wood chopping industry before the first WW till 20th century with photos and tools used at that time.
Waipu Forest waterfall – Piroa Falls
Have never seen before so multileveled waterfall before. Structure was well combined and made it fun to climb around. We took a freezing cold swim just unerneath the waterfall. Surreal experience, I feel like I’m not that afraid anymore to follow my partner’s crazy attitude of taking the most of each adventure, after all, you have nothing to lose and fears are illusions.
Piha – surf beach that takes your breath away
Just shortly before making our way to Piha we had a 1,5 hour walk near the dam that supplies Auckland city with 1/3 of it’s drinkable water. Remarkable place that was built almost 100 years ago.
And as for Piha, we bought a surfboard and tried the west coast’s crushing waves and had a bit of exploration around the surf beach caves. This was a truly unique place – star fish attached to the rocks, all types of mussels and water life formations.
That’s all for North Island – Northland trip.
Stay tuned to find out more about Coromandel trip and other adventures around New Zealand.